Friday, October 12, 2007

Ottawa sex trade [sic] customers, you've got mail

Big whoopee deal.

Ottawa police are literally sending home the message that customers of the city's street-level sex trade [sic] aren't welcome in its neighbourhoods.

[As of this week] a special "community safety letter" will be mailed to the residence of any driver who is stopped by police while talking to prostitutes in certain Ottawa neighbourhoods ...

"The letter is geared to inform the driver of the vehicle, the potential john, that their activity is not wanted in the concerned neighbourhood," said police Supt. Gilles Larochelle. "It's a letter that educates the individual."

The letter warns the driver that there is a "clear correlation" between street prostitution and drug use and that there are health concerns such as HIV and hepatitis. It also says community members are concerned about children finding used needles and condoms in playgrounds and about increased traffic.

Well, golly gee, I guess someone figures that if folks knew better they would do better. So, what ... the Ottawa police figues that these johns just don't know about this "correlation" and that if they did, they would stop using prostitutes? Sure, they're just respectable, hard-working guys looking for a bit of release, eh? No big deal. The fact that the women who provide that release have to numb themselves with drugs to keep on doing it is not their concern, of course. There are more important things to worry about, like covering legal asses (so to speak):

Patrol officers have been told that if they witness a car that appears to be in a neighbourhood to solicit prostitutes, they should talk to and identify the driver. They should also make sure he was speaking with a prostitute, said Larochelle, who confirmed that speaking with a prostitute is not illegal. The letter would then be sent to the driver's home.

That concerns Jack Mackinnon, president of the Civil Liberties Association, National Capital Region. He said the program is well-intentioned, but infringes on people's rights.

Yeah ... but whose rights, exactly? It looks like the only ones who would "suffer" would be those banging drug-addicted women willing to sell their bodies to feed their habit. Clearly, such infringement doesn't concern the residents:

... the program has wide support from residents of inner city neighbourhoods plagued by drugs and prostitution. In fact, police said it was residents who suggested the program in the first place. ...

The program has also won praise from Gordon Keith, president of the Cartier-Vanier Business Improvement Association, who said he wants a clean and safe neighbourhood free of prostitutes that will attract new businesses.

"If there's no johns there, the prostitutes won't be there either," he said. "So let's attack the root of the problem."

Something tells me no one is truly, genuinely interested in attacking "the root of the problem." If they were, they would be doing a whole lot more than sending namby-pamby, euphemistic letters to prowling johns.

This is just more of the "out of sight, out of mind" general mindset of Canada's wealthiest city and seat of the country's power.

Full article here.

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